Bill C-88 - Amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA)
In 2014, the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA) was amended as part of legislation surrounding the devolution of the Northwest Territories. The legislation included changes that sought to restructure the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board.
At the time, a number of Indigenous governments and organizations in the Northwest Territories raised concerns about the planned restructuring. The Tłįchǫ Government and Sahtu Secretariat Inc. filed for an injunction with the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories to suspend the related provisions. They were granted the injunction in February 2015.
In the spirit of respect and cooperation, the Government of Canada launched a consultation process with all relevant parties, including Indigenous governments and organizations in the Northwest Territories, the territorial government, and other stakeholders to discuss a way forward for the MVRMA on September 23, 2016.
Following formal discussions with territorial Indigenous governments and organizations, and the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Government of Canada introduced a bill in the House of Commons on November 8, 2018 that addresses concerns about the 2014 changes to the MVRMA.
Bill C-88 proposes to repeal the provisions of the Northwest Territories Devolution Act that would have restructured the four land and water boards in the Mackenzie Valley, and instead retain the current board structure consisting of:
- Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board;
- Gwich’in Land and Water Board;
- Sahtu Land and Water Board; and
- Wek’èezhìi (Tłįchǫ) Land and Water Board.
The Bill also re-introduces regulatory provisions that were included in the Northwest Territories Devolution Act but did not come into force following the court injunction. These provisions have been drafted to function under the current four-board structure and provide for the following:
- An enforceable development certificate scheme following environmental assessments and environmental impact reviews.
- Clarification on equal proportions of nominees from government and Indigenous governments and organizations.
- The extension of a board member’s term during a proceeding to ensure board quorum is maintained until the conclusion of an application decision.
- A 10-day pause period between a board’s preliminary screening decision and the issuance of an authorization to allow for other bodies under the Act to refer a project to an environmental assessment.
- An Administrative Monetary Penalty scheme that will provide inspectors with additional tools to enforce compliance under the Act.
- Regional studies that provide the Minister with the discretion to appoint committees or individuals to study the effects of existing and future development on a regional basis.
- The authority to develop cost-recovery regulations that would provide the Government with the ability to recover costs associated with proceedings.
The development of regulations respecting consultation, which would help clarify the procedural roles and responsibilities respecting Indigenous consultation.
The Government of Canada is committed to working in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, provincial and territorial governments, and Canadians to ensure that legislation is clear, fair and appropriate to all Canadians. This bill supports the Government’s commitments to respect the rights and interests of Indigenous Peoples and is an important step towards reconciliation.
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